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Monday, April 23, 2018

Did Illinois get robbed by referees at end of loss to Miami?

Kenny Kadji IllinoisReferees may have hurt Illinois with a bad call in the final minute of their 63-59 loss to Miami in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament Sunday.

Illinois was down 57-55 with 45 seconds left when senior guard D.J. Richardson attempted a 3-pointer from the wing. Richardson’s shot was short and his ball appeared to be knocked out of bounds by Miami’s Kenny Kadji, who had jumped to try grabbing the ball. The referee along the baseline awarded the ball to Miami, which caused Illinois coach John Groce to lose his mind.

Replays appeared to show Kadji knocked the ball out of bounds, though there is a slight chance the ball went off Illinois guard Brandon Paul’s fingertips. Most people felt the ball went off on Kadji, including one of his teammates.

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami big man Julian Gamble thought replays showed the ball went off Kadji.

The call completely changed the game. Miami’s Durand Scott was fouled and made both his free throws. Instead of Illinois being down two and taking the ball out beneath the basket, they were suddenly down four with 36 seconds left.

After the game, Groce wouldn’t let Paul respond when the guard was asked by reporters about the play. Groce did give his thoughts when asked about it.

“You saw the same video that I did,” Groce said. “I thought the officiating Friday and [Sunday] was tremendous. These guys did a good job, they did. It’s a hard game to officiate. 50-50 calls are hard sometimes. That’s how he saw the play in live speed. I certainly respect that, respect him, and respect the call that he made.”

Announcer Tim Brando was also incensed by the call. He pointed out that officials could not review the play on instant replay, and he recommended the NCAA make a change to the rule for the future. We hope they follow his advice.

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